India A v Sri Lanka A, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 3rd day December 8, 2003

Kandamby stars as Sri Lanka A level series

Sri Lanka A 226 and 155 for 7 (Kandamby 64*) beat India A 172 and 206 by 3 wickets

Sri Lanka A fought to a thrilling three-wicket win over India A in the final A-team Test at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai to draw the three-match series 1-1. Sahan Kandamby and Omesh Wijesiriwardene held their nerve and scored the winning runs on a substandard pitch where the ball turned sharply,and the bounce was uneven. That 37 wickets fell in the match, and the average innings score was only 190, should indicate the soul-crushing nature of the pitch.

Kandamby did not let this bother him. After pulling his team out of a difficult situation on the second day with an aggressive 60, he was thrown in to the deep end again, with the score at 57 for 5, chasing 153. Amit Bhandari and Siddharth Trivedi had dismissed two batsmen apiece, then Murali Kartik trapped Naveed Nawaz for a duck. The Indian morale was up again, and the empty stadium echoed with the fielders' chirping. The infield was wide awake, and every run had to be battled for. Bhandari steamed in and had the batsmen poking tentatively, while Kartik was handled with extreme caution.

Farming the strike, Kandamby scored runs with percentage strokes, hitting boundaries when the bowling was loose. In the first over after lunch, Kartik bowled two loose deliveries. Kandamby swung both to the fence, and then went back into his defensive shell. After reaching his second half-century of the game, he ended the match and his first Sri Lanka A tour with a boundary to wide long-on, followed by a smashing six in the same area, off Kartik.

His knocks were - by a distance - the most authoritative of a match where no other batsman reached 50. But the Indians would do well to reflect on a segment of play that cost them the series. On the first day, after they had reached 138 for 3, they were bundled out for 172.

Hemang Badani stood tall amid the ruins and was the highest scorer in both innings. The rest of the highly rated Indian middle order crumbled without a fight. Sri Lanka's batsmen also found the going tough, and in the end it was Kandamby's plucky knocks that tilted the scales.

Bhandari and Trivedi finished the match with six wickets, while Kartik took five. But did the management miss a trick? When Kandamby was asked whether he found facing Bhandari or Kartik more challenging, he replied, deadpan, "Ramesh Powar."